A supervisor who attended a workshop that I was facilitating for a plastics company, in an exercise which examined personal vision and passion, admitted that he had always wanted to become a fireman – to be in a position, if possible, to prevent fires from starting or, if not possible, to be able to save lives and extinguish fires to prevent further damage to property and people. The company CEO, who was also attending the workshop, stood up and told the supervisor that he would assist in making the supervisor’s dream a reality, not because the supervisor was incompetent – on the contrary, he was a real asset to the company – but because the CEO realised that the supervisor’s passion was seated elsewhere and he was willing to endeavour to make the necessary connections for the supervisor to be accepted at least in a trial programme that the local fire station offered for would-be firemen. Today, the supervisor is happily giving his all for the safety of the city and its people.
The CEO of the plastics company gave the opportunity for the supervisor’s passion to be achieved, but the realisation of one’s vision doesn’t always come so easily. Charles Handy, in The Hungry Spirit: Beyond Capitalism, A Quest for Purpose in the Modern World, outlines the difficulty of connecting with his inner passion:
I spent the early part of my life trying hard to be someone else. At school, I wanted to be a great athlete, at university an admired socialite, afterwards a businessman and later, the head of a great institution. It did not take me long to discover that I was not destined to be successful in any of these guises, but that did not prevent me from trying and being perpetually disappointed with myself.
The problem was that in trying to be someone else, I neglected to concentrate on the person I could be. That idea was too frightening to contemplate at the time. I was happier going along with the conventions of the time, measuring success in terms of money and position, climbing ladders which others placed in my way, collecting things and contacts rather than giving expression to my own beliefs and personality.
The above revealing self-disclosure comes from a man successful as an industry executive, a leader in the London Business School, Chairman of the Royal Society of the Arts and influencer worldwide as an author and professor. Like so many others, however, Charles Handy was also deceived by the idea of fame, money and power and succumbed to the expectations of others in his earlier life experiences.
Finding your real self – organising your life around your passion – is not easy. People tend to run after the aspirations of others or live to the expectations of family members rather than risk all on their dreams. The problem that is thus created is that energy is applied inappropriately – “forced” energy is offered to perceived ideals rather than the real dreams that would motivate the giving of one’s all to what one believes one lives for. As such, we end up disappointed that we have missed our “calling”.
Our ideal vision engages our passion, emotion and motivation. A personal vision is the fullest expression of our desire for life and that picture becomes both our GPS for our decisions and a measure of our sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in life. We need to find it, so that we can realise our vision for our respective lives.